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GENESIS Reviews: Shining Force


For those reading one of my Genesis review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

I already reviewed a bunch of SNES games, so its natural that I am going to review the games of its prime competition. Does the SEGA Genesis stand a chance against the legendary SNES library?

My review series is based on the top 100 list of Retro Sanctuary

Originally, I post most of my stuff in a football forum"Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

43- Shining Force:
Year: 1992.
Genre: SRPG.
Publisher: Sega.
Developer: Climax Entertainment, Sonic Software Planning.

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

The Shining Force series is generally considered Sega's counterpart to Nintendo's own SRPG series, Fire Emblem. For as long as the two games existed together, the Shining Force series actually had more of a Western presence.

Unfortunately, the series was one of the many victims of Sega's exit from the console market. However, its games can still be enjoyed today. While the series initially started as an unfortunate dungeon crawling game. It changed gears into an SRPG with the second game, and it was an excellent start to the series.

"No matter what the cost, the mystery must be solved, and Runefaust's plan foiled"

As with other early 90s RPGs, Shining Force does not try to tell a complicated story. The evil nation of Runefaust have been plaguing the land, the Shining Force will need to fight to stop them. Still, it does more in its stories than other contemporary games.

It tries to cram in as many cool moments and cliches as it could. In fact, it is one of the games that founded those moments into the well-worn tropes used today. The noble enemy knight, check. The imprisoned enemy king, check. The hero's sacrifice, check.

At least you don't begin the game on bed

It is surprising how much story the game actually manages to convey limited dialogue. Take for example the many cities you visit. One of them immediately stands out because you don't see any adults. By walking around and talking to the kids, you realize that a lot of the adults ran away from the impending Runefaust army.

Still, I wish the many character's that join your army had more lines to say than the two or three they currently have. This was a common flaw in SRPGs, and it was a shame in Shining Force which had an interesting looking cast.

Good Story and Setting: +3
Interesting Side Notes: +2
Limited Character Story: -2

"What's a youngster like you doing moving around? Get out and fight evil!"

One thing that is weird about Shining Force is that it doesn't progress the same way SRPGs usually do. Sure, the game is basically a series of battles. However, the story doesn't progress once you finish a battle.

In fact, the game first starts off as an RPG, with your character moving around the town and overwolrd. This allows you to interact with your own cast of characters (limited interaction) as well as the good townsfolk of all the cities in the game.

This is a small part in the game compared to the battles, but it does add something, and it differentiates the series from others in the same genre.

Walking around the world, you can also recruit characters to your army as well as well as buy and sell equipment.

Once you go into battle, its into SRPG gameplay. You will end up controlling 12 characters, with many different classes. In a character's turn, they can move and attack an enemy based on their class. Some classes can attack from two spaces away, but most must be adjacent to the enemy. Unlike the Fire Emblem series, the enemies do not counter attack, meaning you can kill enemy unit before they get a chance to retaliate.

That centaur unit can be ganged up on and defeated quckly if you don't move units to cover his side

In all of the game's stages, the goal is to defeat all enemy characters while making sure the main character doesn't die. You characters level-up based on their performance, which means you need to make sure all of your characters are engaged in the battle.

Its a solid gameplay system, and the stages all pose a satisfying sense of challenge  without being overwhelming. Some stages are simply too large, and those take a longer time to finish, but most are well-balanced and actually do not take too long.

Walking around like in an RPG: +2
Solid Gameplay: +3
Good Stages: +3

"Burn... You'll serve as an example to all who dare oppose Runefaust"

One thing SRPG veterans would have notice me say is how characters need to participate in battle to level-up. This is usually the case for SRPG games, and it affects how you play the game. Strong characters that can easily kill enemy units should not hog all the experience, and sometimes you need to make purposefully disadvantageous moves in order to get a weaker character the killing blow.

Also, this usually means experience points are limited throughout the game, and you could be in a bind if you level-up the wrong set of characters. With character promotions, and leveling up of each character going into different trends, this could happen in any SRPG.

This is not a problem in Shining Force.

First, because the game is not particularly hard. Through natural progression, you can get the your heroes to a decent enough level. Only near the end of the game does the difficulty spikes, and it does so mostly by giving the enemies magical attacks that completely ignore your defenses.

Second, because you can actually repeat battles before finishing them. If you want to level-up, just cast Egress with your MC and you retreat from battle, keeping all the exp you earned while fighting. This is a huge game changer, as this allows you to train weaker characters, and basically allow you the luxury of creating your favorite team.

Or you could simply have all of your extra characters hang outi n the bar like bums

Of course, if you abuse this, your team will simply grow too strong, removing any challenge in the game.

Making up your team can be really fun. You can have a full squad of Centaur Knights to rush the enemy (won't work well in forest terrain), and if you are going to use Centaur Knights you shouldn't ignore Arthur who grows up fast from weak beginnings. There are flying units, which you can to scout ahead and pick apart mages and healers. Then of course, there is the weak Dragon unit which grow up to become the most fearsome of them all.

Half the fun in battle is how different they are based on your team composition.

Ability to Replay Battles: +3
Varied Character Classes: +3

"In ages forgotten... light fought darkness for control of the world"

Immediately, Shining Force aims to impress the player. A young elf girl, nearly filling the screen, and animated in a way unique to Genesis games, introduces us to the game. From then, we see the colorful graphics used to make up the world and its inhabitants.

While repetitive, the game's graphics are colorful and detailed. They also always try to do more. For instance, battles are animated, and the effects of both attacks and spells are nice enough. Sprites are detailed, and character art is cool.

I reall like the short battle scenes

Its the classic 16 bit look that remains pretty today.

Unfortunately, the same care did not extend to the game's soundtrack. While the songs are ok, they are very limited, especially for an SRPG.

When a battle can take up to 30 minutes, listening to the same music track that has little depth gets boring.

Good Graphics and Character Design: +3
Goo animation: +2
Limited Music: -2

In Conclusion:

This first SRPG Shining Force game is an excellent start to the series. It easily became one of Sega's best exclusive games, and one of their winning IPs. At least, that is the case critically if not commercially.

Any fan of the genre would enjoy this game, and yet be sad at playing it. Sad that the series is now dead, and its once rivalry with Fire Emblem is of the same fate as Sega's with Nintendo.

Final: 45/50



1- You should try and level up Arthur, he is really good.
2- If you need to level your characters up, Egress during battle and continue to fight with your weaker characters.
3- You can do the same if you need money.
4- As with other SRPGs, promoting your characters early is not a good idea. Generally promote characters that reach level 20.
5- Main Character dies, and its gameover, make sure to protect him.
6- Domingo is a character with high priority, meaning that enemies will attack him most, and he is a tank.
7- There are hidden characters, search suspicious places in the environment.

Next Game:

This an excellent start to the Shining Force series, and one of my favorite Genesis games so far. Its worth noting that Sonic! Software Team are now called Camelot Software, and they have been making good games for Nintendo. I am looking forward to Shining Force 2.

Next game in the series is Quackshot at #40, a platformer starring everyone's favorite duck. The working man's duck, the only good Donald I know, Donald D. Duck.

Stay Tuned

For Previous Genesis game Reviews:

The List

 For More Screenshots:

See Here

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Seeing as my top 10 games of all time would change depending on the day you ask me, I am just going to put in Random games I don't think are in anyone's top 10 list:

-Blood Will Tell
-Mega Man Legends 2
-Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
-Donkey Kong Country 2
-Suikoden 2

Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
My Blogs